A Wedding Isn’t Just a Party: Guest Column

Recent debates about whether Christians should go to so-called same-sex “weddings” have revealed a lot, and not just about how normalized homosexuality has become. Some of those who argued Christians should attend asked, “Why turn down an invitation to a wedding when we’re fine eating with, working with, or being friends with people who call themselves gay?”  

But this assumes that weddings are just another social event, a time for people to express their feelings and celebrate their happiness. In a Christian view, they’re much more than that. They’re a public act inseparably joining two lives and creating a family—a God-ordained covenant with a purpose that goes back to creation and symbolism that reaches into New Creation, whether those getting married realize it or not. Those who go don’t merely attend, they participate as witnesses. 

We have a serious failure of catechesis if Christians don’t understand how marriage ceremonies are fundamentally different than a party. For today’s confusion, Christians need to know what marriage is, not just what it isn’t

Copyright 2024 by the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Reprinted from BreakPoint.org with permission.

Survey Shows Support for Same-Sex Marriage Declining

Support for same-sex marriage in the U.S. has fallen for the first time in nearly a decade, according to a new survey. The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) published updates to its American Values Atlas on Tuesday, revealing that public support for same-sex marriage dropped from 69% to 67% from 2022 to 2023.

The last time that PRRI recorded a decline in public support for same-sex marriage was almost 10 years ago, when it fell from 54% in 2014 to 53% in 2015. Among Republicans, support for same-sex marriage dropped from 49% in 2022 to 47% in 2023, which is still 12 points higher than it stood in 2014. There was also a similar drop in support among independent voters, from 73% in 2022 to 71% in 2023. Support for same-sex marriage has risen among Democrats from 65% in 2014 to 82% in 2023.

The PRRI survey further reported that support for same-sex marriage has decreased among religious groups. Support for same-sex marriage is and has been highest among religiously unaffiliated, Buddhist, and Jewish Americans, with a majority of mainline Protestants and Catholics also expressing support. Among American Catholics, support dipped from 75% in 2022 to 73% in 2023, but declined most steeply among Hispanic Catholics: from 75% in 2022 to 68% in 2023. Support for same-sex marriage is lowest among Mormons (47% in 2023), Hispanic Protestants (44% in 2023), Muslims (40% in 2023), white evangelicals (37% in 2023), and Jehovah’s Witnesses (18% in 2023).

Additionally, while a majority of Americans support LGBT non-discrimination policies, overall support for these policies has also declined. PRRI found that 80% of Americans supported non-discrimination policies in 2022, but only 76% did in 2023. Support among Republicans dropped from 66% in 2022 to 59% in 2023, while support among Democrats remained steady. The survey also found that 52% of those who identify as LGBT identify as religiously unaffiliated, which PRRI noted is “nearly twice the rate of the general U.S. population (27%).” About a third (35%) of those who identify as LGBT also identify as Christian, but PRRI noted that those who reject “Christian nationalism” are “nearly unanimous (93%) in their support” for both same-sex marriage and non-discrimination policies.

“The growing partisan divide on these issues show the effect of the continuous use of LGBTQ identity and LGBTQ rights as a wedge issue in our nation’s culture wars,” PRRI CEO Melissa Deckman said in a press release.

In comments to The Washington Stand, Family Research Council Senior Fellow Meg Kilgannon said, “It’s interesting to me that this very sophisticated survey funded by pro-LGBT advocacy organizations managed to have a series of questions related to ‘Christian nationalist’ support for/opposition to LGBT rights or protections.” She added, “That’s classic framing by the Left, casting Christians — or simply people who don’t think men can marry other men — as the odious troublemakers. The longer we live with the effects of sexual liberation, the less people will like it.”

PRRI’s report comes in the wake of courts upholding such measures as parental notification school mandates and bans on gender transition procedures for minors — both of which are labeled by LGBT activists as “oppressive” — as well as Democrats backing off LGBT funding programs and the release of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) files. The year which PRRI’s survey centered on, 2023, also saw widespread backlash against corporations such as Bud Light and Target for their LGBT activism, resulting in billions of dollars of losses for those companies.

Originally published by The Washington Stand

US Supreme Court protects free speech for all

The following is a press release from Alliance Defending Freedom.

Friday, Jun 30, 2023

WASHINGTON – In a landmark decision Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld free speech for all Americans in 303 Creative v. Elenis, stating, “as this Court has long held, the opportunity to think for ourselves and to express those thoughts freely is among our most cherished liberties and part of what keeps our Republic strong.” Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent Denver-area graphic artist and website designer Lorie Smith and her studio, 303 Creative, whom Colorado has censored for nearly seven years.

“The U.S. Supreme Court rightly reaffirmed that the government can’t force Americans to say things they don’t believe. The court reiterated that it’s unconstitutional for the state to eliminate from the public square ideas it dislikes, including the belief that marriage is the union of husband and wife,” said ADF CEO, President, and General Counsel Kristen Waggoner, who argued before the Supreme Court on behalf of Lorie and 303 Creative. “Disagreement isn’t discrimination, and the government can’t mislabel speech as discrimination to censor it. Lorie works with everyone, including clients who identify as LGBT. As the court highlighted, her decisions to create speech always turn on what message is requested, never on who requests it. The ruling makes clear that nondiscrimination laws remain firmly in place, and that the government has never needed to compel speech to ensure access to goods and services.”

“This is a win for all Americans,” Waggoner added. “The government should no more censor Lorie for speaking consistent with her beliefs about marriage than it should punish an LGBT graphic designer for declining to criticize same-sex marriage. If we desire freedom for ourselves, we must defend it for others.”

ADF attorneys sued Colorado in 2016 on Smith’s behalf for misusing state law to violate the U.S. Constitution. They argued that a Supreme Court decision for Smith would benefit all Americans, regardless of their beliefs, and help end nearly two decades of unconstitutional government coercion against artists. In New Mexico, photographer Elaine Huguenin is out of business; in Washington, floral artist Barronelle Stutzman was forced to retire; in New York, photographer and blogger Emilee Carpenter faces six figure fines and even jail; and in Colorado, the state has used the very law at issue in this case to punish cake artist Jack Phillips, who is enduring his third lawsuit after more than a decade of litigation.

In its decision reversing the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, the Supreme Court made clear that the government can’t force Smith to create speech that violates her beliefs just as it cannot force a pro-abortion filmmaker to make a documentary supporting the pro-life movement, a lesbian artist to draw illustrations for a Christian book on marriage, or a Democrat publicist to pen Republican talking points.

“[T]he freedom to think and speak is among our inalienable human rights… By allowing all views to flourish, the framers understood, we may test and improve our own thinking both as individuals and as a Nation,” the Supreme Court wrote in its opinion.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, which says I am free to create art consistent with my beliefs without fear of Colorado punishing me,” said Smith. “This is a victory not just for me but for all Americans across our great country—for those who share my beliefs and for those who hold different beliefs. Whether you’re an LGBT graphic designer, a Jewish calligrapher, an Atheist speechwriter, or a pro-life photographer, the government shouldn’t force any of us to say something we don’t believe. I love people and work with everyone, including those who identify as LGBT. For me, it’s always about what message is requested, never the person requesting. I hope that, regardless of what people think of me or my beliefs, everyone will celebrate that the court upheld the right for each of us to speak freely.”

The Supreme Court’s decision also reaffirms the government’s ability to protect people’s access to basic goods and services. Public-accommodation laws will continue to ensure people have access to goods and services. The ruling affirms America’s commitment to free speech, which has helped advance some of its most significant progress—from abolishing slavery and securing women’s right to vote to passing the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Each of these movements flourished because America refused to coerce or silence speech.

“Without the freedom to speak, we shutter diverse views, meaningful debate, and the conditions for progress,” Waggoner explained. “Regardless of one’s beliefs, race, faith, or identity, no one should be punished by the government for saying what they believe. Political and cultural winds shift, but the First Amendment’s promise remains constant. If our civil liberties are to have any meaning, people must be free to speak consistently with the very core of who they are. The Supreme Court’s ruling ensures that future generations will enjoy this most essential of freedoms.”

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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